Julie Anne Sauter, as Trustee of the Julie Anne Sauter Living Trust Dated February 12, 2014, Plaintiff and Appellee
James Miller and Carol Miller, Defendants and Appellants
from the District Court of Bowman County, Southwest Judicial
District, the Honorable Dann E. Greenwood, Judge. AFFIRMED.
Allison R. Mann (argued) and Nathan M. Bouray (appeared),
Dickinson, ND, for plaintiff and appellee.
W. Lindquist, Dickinson, ND, for defendants and appellants.
VandeWalle, Chief Justice.
1] James and Carol Miller appealed from a judgment quieting
title to certain real property in favor of Julie Sauter. The
Millers argue the district court erred in finding Sauter
acquired ownership of the disputed property by adverse
possession, finding the boundary of the property was
established by acquiescence, finding the Millers breached
their contract and trespassed on Julie Sauter's property,
and awarding Julie Sauter attorney's fees.
2] We affirm the judgment on acquiescence, breach of
contract, trespass, and attorney's fees. Because we
affirm the judgment on the issue of acquiescence, we do not
reach the issue of adverse possession.
3] The Millers and Julie Sauter own property with a common
border in Bowman County in the southwest quarter of section
13, township 129 north, range 103 west of the 5th P.M. The
parties dispute the ownership of a 55-60 foot strip of land
equaling approximately two acres located on the Sauter side
of the fence separating the properties.
4] The Sauter property has been owned by Julie Sauter's
family since her father, Oscar Greni, purchased it in 1942.
Julie Sauter personally obtained ownership of the Sauter
property in 1990. Sauter transferred the property to the
Julie Sauter Trust in 2014. Since taking ownership in 1990,
Julie Sauter has leased the Sauter property to different
parties for grazing purposes. A fence ("Original
fence"), running east and west along the Sauter property
and the northeast quarter of the southwest quarter of section
13, was constructed sometime before the 1960s and remained in
place until it was removed by the Millers in 2014.
5] Prior to taking ownership in 2013, the Miller property was
owned by Kurt and Katina Heinrich. In 2012, Julie Sauter and
the Heinrichs entered into a grazing lease for a two-year
period expiring in 2014. However, before the lease expired,
the Heinrichs sold their property to the Millers and no
longer had use for the Sauter property. The Millers did not
have the property surveyed prior to the purchase. Julie
Sauter allowed the Heinrichs to sublease the land to the
Millers for the 2013 grazing year. For the 2014 grazing
season, Julie Sauter and the Millers entered into a new
6] In 2013, the Millers wanted to drill a water well on their
property which required the land to be surveyed. The survey
revealed the Original fence did not follow the actual
boundary line of the two properties. The Millers tore down
the Original fence, constructed a new fence on the surveyed
boundary line, and drilled a water well on the disputed
7] Julie Sauter brought an action against the Millers, and
the district court quieted title to the property in favor of
Julie Sauter and dismissed the Millers' counterclaims.
The district court found Sauter is the legal owner of the
disputed property under the theories of adverse possession
and acquiescence. The district court also ordered damages for
breach of contract, trespass, and attorney's fees in
favor of Sauter.
8] In an appeal from a bench trial, the district court's
findings of fact are reviewed under the clearly erroneous
standard of review and its conclusions of law are fully
reviewable. Moody v. Sundley, 2015 ND 204, ¶ 9,
868 N.W.2d 491. "A finding of fact is clearly erroneous
if it is induced by an erroneous view of the law, if there is
no evidence to support it, or if, after reviewing all of the
evidence, this Court is convinced a mistake has been
made." Id. In a bench trial, the district court